Nanny trafficker gets 18 months 0
Franco Orr is sentenced to 18 months in jail for human trafficking, bringing Leticia Sarmiento to Canada to work as a nanny in 2009. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A man convicted of human trafficking received an 18-month jail sentence from a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday.
In June, Franco Orr was convicted of illegally employing a foreign national and misrepresenting the situation to authorities for bringing his family’s nanny, Leticia Sarmiento, from Hong Kong when they relocated to Vancouver.
Sarmiento alleged Orr had overworked and underpaid her, as well as isolated her from society. The judge, however, said at Orr’s sentencing hearing he didn’t believe the extent of those allegations.
Orr’s wife, Nicole Huen, was also charged in the case, but was acquitted.
Outside court in Vancouver, Sarmiento, originally from the Philippines, rebutted the judge’s assessment of her allegations, but said she felt justice had been served.
Sarmiento said other nannies need to feel they can go to authorities about maltreatment by their employers.
“If they feel that they are abused, don’t be scared, just come out and tell the story so people know,” Sarmiento said with tears welling in her eyes. “Maybe a lawyer or community can help them so that they can have justice.”
BC NDP MLA Mable Elmore, who has been working with Sarmiento on her case, called her decision to come forward “inspiring” and hoped the sentence would prevent further instances of nanny abuse.
“The judge wanted to send a message of deterrence,” said Elmore. “So I think it’s very significant.”
Elmore said it was the first time someone has been convicted of human trafficking under the Immigration Act.
She said the provincial and federal governments need to make it easier for foreign workers to understand their rights and report abuse, pointing to the growth of the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker program.
The Crown had asked for more than five years in jail for Orr.
Orr’s lawyer said he will appeal the sentence.
Outside court Tuesday, Sarmiento said she was unhappy Huen had been acquitted.
Her employment stopped in 2010 when Sarmiento poured the wrong glass of milk — soy instead of homogenized — for one of the couple’s children, she testified in court earlier this year.
“All of a sudden Mrs. Huen yelled at me. She took the soy milk, when I was at the sink, (and) she suddenly threw the soy milk in front of me,” Sarmiento testified.
“I was wiping the counter ... she took the towel and she threw it in my face.”
Shouts turned into shoves and Sarmiento testified she broke down in tears and called the police to intervene, departing with the attending officers.
Hours later, Sarmiento, who had expected the couple would handle her immigration paperwork, discovered her visa had expired about five months after her arrival in Canada in 2008.